Space Hack

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Space Hack review


Diablo in space

Background story

Space Hack is a sci-fi Action/RPG based in the 23rd Century where Earth has become grossly overpopulated. The survival of the human species depends on re-population of new planets and resources to sustain life. This is where we find our not so typical ex-Space Marine Hero "Hack" among the biospheres of the Maximus XV. The Maximus is one of many massive autonomous colony ships sent out to dark reaches of space to find new worlds to colonize. Maximus is also the setting for almost 100 hours worth of gameplay in which al hell breaks loose when the ship wanders into a deadly Black Nebula and becomes the newest buffet in town for a race of incectoid aliens who have no problems with having earthlings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After losing most of the ships 15 biospheres to the invading aliens, the remaining space marines and settlers have managed to hold their ground in the last biosphere and our hero "Hack", jumps into action. It is his (your!) duty is to single handedly beat back the hordes of hungry alien bugs and complete a variety of missions and tasks along the way. Welcome to the world of Space Hack!

Welcome to the Space Marines

Space Hack is a point and click Action/RPG title. You point at it, you click it, it dies in an explosion of green ichors and you gain XP for it. Simple? Maybe, but it's a tried and trusted system inspired by successful titles such as the Diablo series and Baldurs Gate saga. Gameplay has been greatly inspired by Diablo and you will see many characteristics in common between the two. To say that Space Hack struck me as a Sci-Fi Diablo, would be a true statement, however, there are some notable differences.

Space Hack is more action driven even though there is a good storyline and countless missions to accomplish. The action is intense and almost nonstop. After a few quick dialogue windows which begin the tragic story of Maximus XV and a few mission summaries, you are off and immediately up to your armpits in aliens! Combat is simple and to the point, you run in and either lay waste to the waves of critters with a selection of ranged weapons such as Ice Blasters, Mag Guns or Plasma Pistols or you pick up your trusty melee weapon of choice and begin to cleave some bug carapace. Both methods of combat proved to be effective, balanced, and always ended in a satisfying 'splort' of an exploding bug. As a warning though, just because it has been stated that combat was simple does not mean in any way that it was easy. On the 'normal' difficulty setting it was still one of the hardest games I've ever played in this genre. As much as one would like to run head strong into the horde of alien bugs, the reality of being violently beat down in a matter of seconds becomes painfully obvious pretty quick. A little bit of tactics and strategy are needed in certain situations such as the choice between ranged and melee and if there is any cover that can be used.

You are dependant on 'Medpaks' for healing, which can be found throughout the game or bought from your base medic. With as many adversaries as you face at one time, you tend to eat through them in a hurry. The fact that character's natural healing is painfully slow out in the field doesn't help matters any either. Along your journey you will pick up equipment which will 'drop' from your slain enemies. This equipment will take the form of armor, weapons, bio-chips which enhance aspects of combat or other tech gear that will assist in miscellaneous ways such as a teleporter that will quickly let you return to base. Some 'loot' will have special attributes assigned to it further enhancing your abilities. This is the type of title that your character will live or die by the gear he is equipped with. Weapons and armor will deteriorate as they get beat on and used and special Hi-Tech items will run out of charges and need to be replaced or recharged at base. Needless to say, with limited space for items, inventory management is important.

Now where did I put that..... uh oh...

The interface is pretty simple. Movement is controlled by mouse clicks on the screen. Hacks pathfinding is very well done and usually will not get hung up on obstacles or scenery, tough often times he will stray much too close to groups of enemies resulting in unwanted combat. The controls are crisp and responsive. There were a few things however, that I found missing from this style of game. First, the controls are simple as previously stated, but are not customizable in anyway, there is no key mapping option. Another missing element was that the camera angle was at a set height. You can spin the screen all day with the rotation controls, but there is no zoom of any kind. This not only prevents you from taking a closer look at the graphics and your playing environment, but it also causes gameplay issues during combat when you are inside a building. The ceiling of the structure will fade to allowing you to see your character, but it does not fade away the area in front of you, greatly restricting your vision.

One last issue I'm going to pick on is item management. Combat in Space Hack is fast and relentless, and you are regularly required to switch between melee weapons and ranged weapons. The down side to this is that you have to open the inventory, drag the new weapon to replace the old and then put the old back into the inventory. This usually means you don't swap at all and continue to fight with the weapon in hand - or - you die trying to switch. Fumbling through your inventory during fights of this size does not end well for our hero. The one saving grace is that you can manipulate your inventory while the game is paused. This is good! Just as long as you don't mind being on the pause button (Space bar) constantly. A hot key to perform a switching between a primary weapons set to a secondary weapon set would have been perfect for this style of play allowing for nonstop action. It does take you out of the experience a bit when you have to pause just to re-equip yourself.


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